Authorities have investigated multiple reported sightings in North Carolina of Brian Laundrie, the missing Florida man wanted for questioning in the disappearance of Gabby Petito, his fiancée whose death was ruled a homicide.
Tipsters have reported a dozen sightings of Laundrie, 23, in the western part of the state near the Tennessee border since Thursday, a spokeswoman with the Haywood County Sheriff’s Office said Tuesday.
Those reports include a 911 call shortly after 2:30 a.m. Saturday, by a man claiming he was “99.99 percent” positive he spoke to Laundrie, who was last seen by his parents in Florida in mid-September.
“He was talking wild. He said that his girlfriend left him and he had to go out to California to see her,” the man told the 911 dispatcher, according to audio of the call released Monday. “He was acting funny. And I wasn’t sure what he looked like. And then … I went and parked and pulled up the photographs of him. And I’m 99.99 percent sure that was him.”
The caller, whose name was not released, also told the dispatcher the man he spoke with was driving a white pickup truck, which he believed could have been a newer Ford F-150.
“It wasn’t like an old beater. It was a newer truck,” he said.
The two crossed paths in a parking lot along a stretch of the Appalachian Trail, after the driver in the truck signaled with his arm that he wanted to speak, the caller said.
“I’m telling you — it was him,” the caller said.
A statement from the Haywood County Sheriff’s Office on Monday said investigators have “thoroughly” followed up on every tip, “but all to no avail.”
Other reports of Laundrie sightings have flooded law enforcement in Canada, Alabama and Montana, NBC New York reported. There have been no confirmed sightings of Laundrie since he disappeared, as far as the FBI is publicly aware, according to the outlet.
Laundrie is being sought by federal authorities in relation to a grand jury indictment for his "activities following the death of Gabrielle Petito," the FBI said late last month.
A federal court in Wyoming issued an arrest warrant for him on Sept. 22, alleging he “knowingly and with intent to defraud, used one or more unauthorized access devices, namely a Capitol One Bank debit card” and personal identification numbers for two accounts.
He has also been named a “person of interest” in Petito’s disappearance.
Petito, 22, went missing in late August after embarking on a cross-country road trip with Laundrie. Her remains were found at a campground in Wyoming on Sept. 19.
The discovery was made in Bridger-Teton National Forest, near Grand Teton National Park. A coroner ruled her manner of death was a homicide, but the official cause of death is awaiting final autopsy results.
Laundrie’s family told investigators last month he had gone hiking on Sept. 14 in the Carlton Reserve in Florida and never returned. Law enforcement searched the 25,000-acre wildlife refuge multiple times while looking for him.
But the Laundrie family attorney, Steven Bertolino, told NBC affiliate WFLA in Tampa on Tuesday that Laundrie's parents were mistaken about the date they say they last saw him.
“The Laundries were basing the date Brian left on their recollection of certain events,” Bertolino said. “Upon further communication with the FBI and confirmation of the Mustang being at the Laundrie residence on Wednesday, Sept. 15, we now believe the day Brian left to hike in the preserve was Monday, Sept. 13.”
Police have said Laundrie returned to his home in North Port, Florida, on Sept. 1 in the Ford Transit van without Petito. She was reported missing by her family on Sept. 11. Before his disappearance and after Petito went missing, Laundrie had been uncooperative with investigators, officials said.